Pitt | Swanson Engineering


Industrial engineering (IE) is about choices - it is the engineering discipline that offers the most wide-ranging array of opportunities in terms of employment, and it is distinguished by its flexibility. While other engineering disciplines tend to apply skills to very specific areas, Industrial Engineers may be found working everywhere: from traditional manufacturing companies to airlines, from distribution companies to financial institutions, from major medical establishments to consulting companies, from high-tech corporations to companies in the food industry.

View our Spring 2018 course schedule for undergraduate and graduate students.

The BS in industrial engineering program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET (http://www.abet.org). To learn more about Industrial Engineering’s Undergraduate Program ABET Accreditation, click here

Our department is the proud home of Pitt's Center for Industry Studies, which supports multidisciplinary research that links scholars to some of the most important and challenging problems faced by modern industry.



Get Well Sooner


PITTSBURGH (January 3, 2018) … One of the few places more nerve-wracking for a parent with a sick child than the emergency room is the waiting room outside the emergency room. Rushing to the hospital only to sit and wait can increase anxiety and worry, especially with new parents.“I’ve seen firsthand some patients whose total time in the emergency department was quite long, and during our busiest times, three hours or more of their time was in the waiting room,” says Anna Svirsko, a third-year graduate student studying industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.Svirsko is part of a team of industrial engineers at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering who partnered with Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC to create a “Wait Time Indicator” and help patients and their families in the Emergency Department (ED) at Children’s Hospital estimate when a doctor will be ready to see them. The indicator is part of a larger project to reduce overall patient length of stay in the ED.“The indicator uses the average wait time over the past hour and the number of people currently in the waiting room to predict how long it will take until the next exam room will open,” says Louis Luangkesorn, assistant professor of industrial engineering at Pitt and faculty advisor to the students working at Children’s Hospital.Wait times are updated every three minutes and displayed in the ED waiting room as well as on Children’s Hospital’s website. In recent years, Children’s Hospital has seen an influx of patients, encouraging leadership eager to find a cure for the crowds.“We’ve seen a steady increase in our yearly patient volume nearly each of the past 15 years,” says Richard Saladino, MD, chief of pediatric emergency medicine at Children’s Hospital. “I think the new generation is becoming more informed and seeking medical care more often and at a lower threshold in recent years.”Children’s Hospital serves people from western Pennsylvania as well as Ohio and West Virginia. Unexpected spurts of patients can quickly cause the ED to become overcrowded and understaffed. Removing uncertainty encourages patients to stick around for treatment, or choose alternatives forms of care provided by Children’s Hospital, such as Children’s Express Care centers.“Families who become frustrated with a long wait will occasionally leave without being seen by a doctor if they don’t have a sense of when they will be seen,” says Dr. Saladino. “Perceived wait time is much different than actual wait time and therefore, being upfront with expectations can have a big impact on patient experience.” The underlying data behind the Wait Time Indicator is capable of predicting days or even hours when the ED can expect to see many patients. These “surge times” and staffing information are incorporated into another tool that can help guide clinicians on predicting when the ED will be busy, allowing them to call in more doctors.“The surge tool can identify a surge around two hours before it hits its peak. In the past, additional doctors usually wouldn’t arrive until after the peak and the crowd had already started to thin. Now, we can better anticipate the rush,” says Dr. Luangkesorn.Pitt students began working with the ED at Children’s Hospital when former associate professor Bryan Norman directed senior design projects to help solve hospital problems. The students started treating the ED’s ailments by using workplace efficiency techniques and strategies they were learning in their classes.“They started with semester-long projects, which were worthwhile experiences but limited in terms of what you could accomplish,” says Dr. Luangkesorn. “Children’s Hospital wanted to expand its relationship with Pitt Engineering to work on bigger problems.”Dr. Luangkesorn and other members of the Industrial Engineering faculty started actively recruiting students from their classes to work at Children’s Hospital. Over the past three years, about 15 to 20 students have been involved with projects aimed at reducing wait times, optimizing staff efficiency, increasing resource utilization and creating a better environment for patients.“The general goal of working with Children’s Hospital is to reduce treatment times and improve patient experience,” says Jayant Rajgopal, professor and graduate program director in the Department of Industrial Engineering at Pitt. “We started with a customer satisfaction approach to improving patient satisfaction at the hospital. We surveyed the patients, and one major complaint was that wait times were too long.”Now the Pitt industrial engineers attend weekly meetings with the ED doctors and staff. They are members of the Children’s Hospital Emergency Department Length of Stay Task Force.“We were invited to be a part of the Task Force about two years ago,” says Dr. Rajgopal. “We have a whole team of people committed to the ultimate goal of reducing overall length of stay in the emergency room—without compromising quality treatment.”The Pitt team has also introduced new strategies to prepare the Children’s Hospital staff for the urgency of an emergency. They implemented the “5S” methodology for organizing equipment. The “S-es” stand for “sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain” and were originally part of a Japanese business principle that helped enable lean or “just-in-time” manufacturing.Students worked with the Environmental Services staff to improve how quickly rooms are cleaned, when previously Children’s Hospital staff members consulted a central computer to find which rooms needed cleaning. They now use iPads on the cleaning carts that give them updates on the move, saving back-and-forth trips to the stationary computer. “Cleaning faster means those rooms are available for the next patient sooner,” adds Svirsko.“The Wait Time Indicator is just one project of many,” says Dr. Luangkesorn. “Children’s Hospital has decreased average time to rapid triage by almost 70 percent, getting the patients in most immediate need of attention more quickly in front of a doctor. We’ve reduced average length of stay for all patients over the past few years, too, and we expect to keep getting better as more students get involved.” ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

INFORMS highlights research by IE faculty and alumna


PITTSBURGH (December 29, 2017) ...Two faculty and an alumna of the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh closed out the year with features in "INFORMS ICYMI," the newsletter of INFORMS, The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences. Alumna Natalie M. Scala, MSIE '07, PhD '11 was featured in the newsletter's Author Spotlight for a November 2017 article, "Motivation and Analytics: Comparing Business and Engineering Students," in INFORMS Transactions on Education. Karen M. Bursic, Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Director of Industrial Engineering at Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering, is a co-author. Dr. Scala is Assistant Professor of e-Business and Technology Management at Towson University. Also featured as an ICYMI "Editors' Pick" was a paper co-authored by Daniel Jiang, Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering. "Risk-Averse Approximate Dynamic Programming with Quantile-Based Risk Measures," published in Mathematics of Operations Research, was highlighted by journal editor J. G. “Jim” Dai, Cornell University School of Operations Research and Information Engineering. INFORMS is the world’s largest professional association dedicated to and promoting best practices and advances in operations research, management science, and analytics to improve operational processes, decision-making, and outcomes. As an international professional society, INFORMS connects members from nearly 90 countries and from all types of organizations including academia, business, government, the military, and others, who will be driving the next generation of the profession. ###


Glass with switchable opacity could improve solar cells and LEDs

Electrical & Computer, Industrial

News release from The Optical Society WASHINGTON (December 11, 2017) ... Using nanoscale grass-like structures, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania have created glass that lets through a large amount of light while appearing hazy. This is the first time that glass has been made with such high levels of haze and light transmittance at the same time, a combination of properties that could help boost the performance of solar cells and LEDs. The glass exhibits another remarkable quality: It can be switched from hazy to clear by applying water. This could make it useful for creating smart windows that change haze or opacity to control the privacy of a room or to block glare from sunlight. "Switchable glass available today is quite expensive because it uses transparent conducting layers to apply a voltage across the entire glass," said Paul W. Leu of the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering, leader of the research team. "Our glass would be potentially less expensive to make because its opacity can be switched in a matter of seconds by simply applying or removing liquid." In Optica, The Optical Society's journal for high impact research, the researchers describe their new nanograss-based glass, which achieves a record 95 percent light transmittance and a similarly high degree of haze at the same time. The researchers experimented with glass etched with nanograss structures from 0.8 to 8.5 microns in height with "blades" each measuring a few hundred nanometers in diameter. The discovery of switchability was one of serendipity. "I was cleaning the new nanograss glass when I discovered that cleaning it with water made the glass become clear," said project lead, graduate student Sajad Haghanifar. While the discovery was incidental, it can be easily explained. "The water goes between the extremely hydrophilic nanostructures, making the nanograss glass act like a flat substrate. Because water has a very similar index of refraction to the glass, the light goes straight through it. When the water is removed, the light hits the scattering nanostructures, making the glass appear hazy." Using nanograss to improve solar cells Leu's group developed the new glass to improve the ability of solar cells to capture light and turn it into power. Nanostructure patterns can prevent light from reflecting off the solar cell's surface. These structures also scatter the light that enters the glass, helping more of the light reach the semiconductor material within the solar cell, where it is converted into power. The new glass uses a unique pattern of nanostructures that looks much like grass. Because the structures are taller than previously-used nanostructures, they increase the likelihood that light will be scattered. Although glass with the nanostructures appears opaque, tests showed that most of the scattered light makes its way through the glass. The fact that the glass is highly hazy and exhibits high transmittance could also make it useful for LEDs, which work in a way that is essentially the opposite of a solar cell, by using electricity that enters a semiconductor to produce light that is then emitted from the device. The new glass could potentially increase the amount of light that makes it from the semiconductor into the surroundings. Finding the right 'grass' height The researchers found that shorter nanograss improved the antireflection properties of the glass while longer nanograss tended to increase the haze. Glass with 4.5-micron-high nanograss showed a nice balance of 95.6 percent transmittance and 96.2 percent haze for light with a 550-nanometer wavelength (yellow light, a component of sunlight). Although more work is needed to estimate the exact cost of manufacturing the new glass, the researchers predict that their glass will be inexpensive because it is easy to make. The nanostructures are etched into the glass using a process known as reactive ion etching, a scalable and straightforward method commonly used to make printed circuit boards. To turn the glass into a smart window that switches from hazy to clear, it would require placing a piece of traditional glass over the nanograss glass. Pumps could be used to flow liquid into the space between the two glasses, and a fan or pump could be used to remove the water. The researchers also showed that in addition to water, applying acetone and toluene can also switch the glass from hazy to clear. "We are now conducting durability tests on the new nanograss glass and are evaluating its self-cleaning properties," said Haghanifar. "Self-cleaning glass is very useful because it prevents the need for robotic or manual removal of dust and debris that would reduce the efficiency of solar panels, whether the panels are on your house or on a Mars rover." ### Photo above: New glass etched with nanograss structures can be switched from hazy to clear by applying water. As shown here, removing the water from the glass makes it appear hazy again. This switchable glass could offer a simple and inexpensive way to make smart windows that change between clear and opaque. (Credit: Sajad Haghanifar, University of Pittsburgh) Paper: S. Haghanifar, T. Gao, R. T. Rodriguez de Vecchis, B. Pafcheck, T. D. B. Jacobs, P. W. Leu, "Ultrahigh Transparency, Ultrahigh Haze Nanograss Glass with Fluid-Induced Switchable Haze," Optica, Volume 4, Issue 12, 1522-1525 (2017). DOI: 10.1364/OPTICA.4.001522. About OpticaOptica is an open-access, online-only journal dedicated to the rapid dissemination of high-impact peer-reviewed research across the entire spectrum of optics and photonics. Published monthly by The Optical Society (OSA), Optica provides a forum for pioneering research to be swiftly accessed by the international community, whether that research is theoretical or experimental, fundamental or applied. Optica maintains a distinguished editorial board of more than 50 associate editors from around the world and is overseen by Editor-in-Chief Alex Gaeta, Columbia University, USA. For more information, visit Optica. About The Optical Society Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and business leaders who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership initiatives, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of optics and photonics experts. For more information, visit osa.org.
Rebecca B. Andersen, The Optical Society

Pitt IE and Children's Hospital Team Up to Reduce Wait Times, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Reports


The last thing a parent with a sick or injured child wants to do in the hospital emergency room is wait. And continue waiting as anxiety builds.Working to limit that scenario, Children’s  Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC has teamed up with industrial engineers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering to develop ways to reduce emergency-department wait times. The team has developed wait-time indicators, which update every 3 minutes, and show length of time before the next treatment room is available. Those times also are posted on the hospital website. At 4:30 p.m. on a recent afternoon, for example, the monitor showed that the next room would be available in 15 to 25 minutes, with a general range of 0 to 50 minutes. Read David Templeton's full article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
David Templeton, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

IE Tenure Faculty

Industrial, Open Positions

The Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh invites applications for one or more tenure-track faculty positions. Candidates at all levels will be considered, subject to appropriate qualifications. Applicants must have strong methodological training in one or more traditional areas of industrial engineering and be motivated by impactful engineering problems in areas such as operations, supply chains, healthcare, energy and manufacturing. We are particularly interested in candidates who have the ability to conduct cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research in fields such as data analytics, machine learning, cybermanufacturing and cyberphysical systems. For junior candidates, our primary search criterion is research potential. Senior candidates must have established an outstanding research record commensurate with rank. All candidates should have evidence of, or potential for, teaching excellence. Candidates from underrepresented groups are particularly encouraged to apply.The Department of Industrial Engineering is currently comprised of 19 full-time faculty members and enjoys an outstanding reputation in a wide variety of research areas. The department maintains vibrant programs at the undergraduate, masters and doctoral levels, offers excellent laboratory facilities, and benefits from many contacts with regional and national corporations. Additional information about the department can be found at www.engineering.pitt.edu/industrial.Applicants should e-mail a curriculumvitae, representative publications, and a list of at least three professional references to facultysearch2017@ie.pitt.edu. Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled.

Upcoming Events

view more